MONROE, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy toured the new Sandy Hook Elementary School on Wednesday, hours before parents and surviving students from last month’s school massacre got an advance peak that their new home.
The governor slipped in and out of the former Chalk Hill Middle School as the media and the public were kept at a distance, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.
WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports
Rolling up to the new school is like approaching a top secret military installation. Vehicles are stopped and identification demanded.
“It feels extremely secure there,” Newtown School District Superintendent Janet Robinson said.
“We have their furniture, we have their belongings,” Robinson told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “Right now, Chalk Hill has been transformed from a middle school to a very cheerful, nurturing elementary school.”
It’s all designed to assure and protect the returning students and their parents, who got a tour of Chalk Hill Middle in neighboring Monroe on Wednesday in preparation for the resumption of classes.
Those who saw it firsthand said it went well.
“The children that I’ve seen have been tremendous. They just wanted their backpacks; they just wanted their water bottles back; they wanted to see their teachers; they’ve seen their teachers. They just want what they all want: normalcy,” Monroe First Selectman Steve Vavarek said.
It’s that desire for normalcy that prompted Newtown school officials to move classes to the available building in nearby Monroe, along with as much of the familiar interior of the old school as they could manage: desks; those backpacks and water bottles, bulletin boards, all of it. The superintendent said there will no special assembly or re-hashing of the horror — just school.
“Students that age do not need to re-live that. It won’t be a heavy curriculum, but they need to do the kinds of things that are important to kids and have a normal routine,” Robinson said.
That was a conscious decision by the school staff under the suggestion of mental health professionals. In preparing for the move some say they have already seen encouraging signs among the adults.
“As teachers worked together — Monroe teachers and Newtown teachers — laughter as they set up the rooms. It was a very important place to be,” Robinson said, adding when asked if those were signs of the types of changes everyone seems to want, “That’s exactly right, yes.”
Parents are being encouraged to allow their children to ride the bus to and from school Thursday — together.
Arriving students will be greeted at the door Thursday by Principal Donna Page, who came out of retirement to take her old job after the killings. Her successor, Dawn Hochsprung, was one of the six adults who died at the school.
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